AKA: Atlantis. Launched: 1990-02-28. Returned: 1990-03-04. Number crew: 5 . Duration: 4.43 days.
The first launch attempt was scrubbed when all but two of the crew came down with the flu. After a second scrub for weather, a third launch attempt came on February 25.
As the crew entered the room to suit up, they found the name tags misspelled on each recliner in which they were prepared. Thuot had done this in revenge for an early version of the crew patch that had misspelled his name. On the way out to the crew van, his oxygen hose snagged on a rail, nearly pulling him down to the ground. The commander and pilot still carried net backs full of medications to fight off their flu symptoms. The crew was led by astronaut Coats in prayer before they departed for the gantry "God help you if you screw this up". The view of the shuttle, prepared for night launch, reminded Mullane of Chesley Bonestell's classic painting "Zero Hour Minus Five" from the 1950's Conquest of Space. However this launch was again scrubbed due to failure of a range safety backup computer.
A fourth attempt, again after loading the crew into the shuttle, was scrubbed due to bad weather at an RTLS abort site. The launch was rescheduled for two days later to give everyone time to rest after days of all-night work.
Finally launched on 28 February, the work in orbit was almost entirely classified.
Mullane enjoyed, on his last mission, the best view from the shuttle - by floating horizontally, and putting his body over the control panel, his face looking out through the forward windscreen, offering a completely unobstructed view.
After the mission, the crew was invited to the White House to meet President Bush - an unusual thing, and indicative of the importance given to the secret mission.
Landed at: Runway 23 dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base, . Landing Speed: 368 kph. Touchdown miss distance: 494.00 m. Landing Rollout: 2,407.00 m. Payloads: DoD Mission - Record altitude (through 5/93).
NASA Official Mission Narrative
Mission Name: STS-36 (34)
Pad 39-A (38)
34th Shuttle mission
6th Flight OV-104
4th Night launch
John O. Creighton (2), Commander
John H. Casper (1), Pilot
Richard M. Mullane (3), Mission Specialist 1
David C. Hilmers (3), Mission Specialist 2
Pierre J. Thuot (1), Mission Specialist 3
OPF - Oct. 30, 1989
VAB - Jan. 19, 1990
PAD - Jan. 25, 1990
February 28, 1990, 2:50:22 a.m. EST. Launch set for Feb. 22 postponed to Feb 23, Feb. 24, and Feb. 25 due to illness of the crew commander and weather conditions. First time since Apollo 13 in 1970 that manned space mission was affected by illness of crew member. Launch set for Feb. 25 scrubbed due to malfunction of range safety computer. Launch set for Feb. 26 scrubbed due to weather conditions. (Note: external tank loaded only for launch attempts on Feb. 25 and 26, and launch on Feb. 28.) Launch Feb. 28 set for classified window lying within launch period extending from 12 midnight to 4 a.m. EST. Launch Weight: Classified.
Inclination: 62.0 degrees
Duration: 4 days, 10 hours, 18 minutes, 22 seconds.
Distance: 1,920,000 miles (approx)
ET : 33/LWT-26
MLP : 1
March 4, 1990, 10:08:44 a.m. PST, Runway 23, Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. Rollout distance: 7,900 feet. Rollout time: 53 sec. Orbiter returned to KSC on March 13,1990. Landing Weight: 187,200 lbs.
Sixth mission dedicated to Department of Defense.
Aerial view of STS-36 Atlantis, OV-104, at KSC LC Pad 39A with T-38A in-flight
STS-36 Atlantis, OV-104, lifts off from KSC LC Pad 39A into darkness
STS-36 Commander Creighton skis on the middeck of Atlantis, OV-104
STS-36 Pilot Casper reaches for laptop computer on OV-104's flight deck
STS-36 Mission Specialist Hilmers with AEROLINHOF camera on aft flight deck
STS-36 onboard view of the "Bonner Sphere", a neutron flux experiment
Aral Sea, North End, Kazakhstan, CIS
Open Ocean, Sun glint and Clouds
STS-36 night Earth observation of New York City, New York
STS-36 Atlantis, OV-104, glides above EAFB Runway 23 prior to landing
Manned five crew. Deployed a classified payload. Landed at: Runway 23 dry lake bed at Edwards Air Force Base, . Landing Speed: 368 kph. Touchdown miss distance: 494.00 m. Landing Rollout: 2,407.00 m. Payloads: DoD Mission - Record altitude (through 5/93).